I suppose I could argue for his radical merits by talking about The Butter Battle Book, but remember what Emma Goldman is widely reported to have said: “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having,” by which I understand her to have meant that there must always be a place for play and pleasure.
[For what Auntie Emma actually said, check out – among other places – her entry in Wikiquote.]
One of my favorite works by Dr. Seuss is not so widely known in general, and not generally known as something by him…
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953)
I always like to be in the position of getting into things before they become cool. Usually, I’m way behind the curve on coolness – for instance, I just joined Twitter mid last year, well past its cool-by date, and I still don’t use it – but this is one of those rare cases where I was genuinely hip ahead of the crowd. I saw The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) as a weekend movie, probably on Channel 2 or Channel 44 (in the San Francisco Bay Area), back in the early 70’s and have loved it ever since.
The movie was written and designed by Theodor Geisel (aka “Dr. Seuss“), who also did the music, and it shows – in the strange, weird and wonderful qualities, the pointed whimsy – but the movie has a darker side than one usually expects from Dr. Suess. That darker side is there, I think, even in The Cat in the Hat, but is usually over-looked.
The basic plot revolves around a reluctant piano student and his teacher – see IMDb or the Wikipedia entry for a fuller discussion – and music is an integral part of the movie. The score features a theremin and was nominated for an Oscar. I recently ran across a CD of the soundtrack, and it’s interesting to listen to the music separate from the visuals.
Perhaps the best known song on the soundtrack is “The Dressing Song,” also know as “Do-Me-Do Duds,” sung by the dreamworld counterpart of the music teacher.